As the seasons turn and we emerge from spring’s embrace, we are once again warmed to the core by our Southern Hemisphere’s hot sun. Eating food for nourishment is not as great a priority as in the colder months — it’s more an adjunct to the pleasure of celebrating and relating. At this time of year, we want smaller morsels of tasty victuals that delight; yummy things interspersed with cold draughts of refreshing drinks. So what’s happening physiologically within us to determine these seasonal cravings?
When we perspire, we lose sodium and our bodies need to replace this salt to balance the ship, so to speak. Where do we find this necessary ballast to keep our bodily systems doing what they do best? In our diet, of course.
This is where our love of snack foods is rightly in its element, signalling our changing desire for different foods is appropriate and in accordance with the season. In summer, we’re often more physically active and therefore sweating and burning more calories and expunging mineral salts from our bodies. Now is the time to enjoy salty snack foods in moderation.
Can we afford to listen to our body’s desires? Well, yes, with understanding and an overview of what our bodies need at various times and seasons. Of course, we also need to slay the dragon of our psychological dependence on comfort foods that can prevent us from really listening to the nutritional needs of our bodies.
What does this mean? It means recognising habitual appetite for foods from childhood that are not serving you well nutritionally. Learning alternative techniques such as meditation, yoga, self-awareness and the like will help you move beyond these oral fixations. Once you have garnered some space from these cravings, you can return to listening to your body’s desires for optimal nutritional direction.
Another factor interacting with our ability to truly listen to our bodies’ needs is that of ritual. How will you cope this Christmas? Is the coming-together of family and friends a time of wonder and peace for you? What’s on the menu this year? Traditional fare from generations past, or a break with yore to rediscover you?
In our neck of the woods, the summer months fall during the high season of celebration, with Christmas and New Year and, of course, my birthday. These heavily proscribed events are times when what to eat, when to eat and for how long are virtually written in stone. The mishmash of festival rules that have filtered down through the ages to us are an eclectic lot involving turkeys, eggnog, presents, Christmas trees, crackers or bonbons, mistletoe, sparkling shiraz, midnight fireworks, kissing strangers and smiling a lot. All this often makes it mighty difficult to listen to your body’s needs.